SEATTLE — Thinking about a cruise to Alaska? Our latest Cruise Ship Tour, in the carousel above, offers a deck-by-deck look at one of the newest and most intimate vessels sailing to the 49th state, American Cruise Lines' 175-passenger American Constellation.
Just unveiled in 2017, the U.S.-built ship in June will begin seven- and 10-night Alaska voyages out of Juneau, Alaska as well as 14-night Alaska sailings between Juneau and Seattle. The vessel this year also is operating seven- and 10-night voyages out of Seattle to the Pacific Northwest.
American Constellation will be the biggest American Cruise Lines ship ever to sail in Alaska. The line began operating in the state in 2012 and is growing in the region due to what it says is strong demand. In addition to American Constellation, it will be deploying a second ship, the 100-passenger American Spirit, to Alaska in 2019 in what amounts to a major expansion in the state.
As can be seen in the tour, American Constellation is a modern and upscale vessel with cabins that are unusually large for a ship based in Alaska. It offers furnished balconies with nearly all of its cabins as well as cabin bathrooms that are significantly larger and more state-of-the-art than what is found on many small ships operating in Alaskan waters. It's also billed as the only fully-stabilized small ship in the region.
Small ships such as American Constellation account for just a small portion of the cruises offered in Alaska — a region dominated by big ships that often hold as many as 10 to 20 times more passengers. But small ships offer some of the most unusual itineraries around the state.
American Constellation's seven-night Southeast Alaska itinerary includes stops at Kake and Petersburg — small, off-the-beaten-path Alaska towns that are inaccessible to bigger ships. American Constellation's 10-night itinerary adds a stop in little-visited Wrangell, Alaska. Both 2018 itineraries also include a visit to Glacier Bay National Park, with the 10-night itinerary including an overnight stay — a relative rarity for a cruise ship.
Lesser known than big ship lines such as Royal Caribbean and Carnival, American Cruise Lines specializes in small-ship cruises on American waterways and has been in business for nearly two decades. It operates 10 vessels, including a new sister ship to American Constellation called American Constitution that just debuted in April on the East Coast.
In addition to Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, American Cruise Lines' operates small ships along the coastal and inland waterways of New England and the Southeast. It also operates several riverboats on the Pacific Northwest's Columbia and Snake rivers and on the Mississippi River system.
The Connecticut-based line is in the midst of rapid expansion this year. In addition to the just-unveiled American Constitution, it's adding a new riverboat in October on the Mississippi River called American Song. Initially operating out of New Orleans, American Song will be the first riverboat on a U.S. river with a modern design as opposed to the traditional paddle-wheeler style that has dominated American river cruising for decades. It's just the first of several modern riverboats American Cruise Lines plans to add on America's rivers over the next few years.
American Cruise Lines boasts a highly inclusive format with accommodations, meals, beer and wine with dinner; pre- and post-dinner alcoholic drinks, gratuities and on-board WiFi included in the fare. Tours in some ports also are included.
Fares for American Constellation cruises in Alaska start at $5,135 per person for a seven-night voyage. The fares include a pre-cruise, one-night hotel stay.
The American Constellation photo tour is part of our ongoing series of cruise ship galleries. For an inside look at dozens of other passenger vessels sailing the world's oceans and rivers, click on the links below:
Adventure Canada: Ocean Endeavour
AmaWaterways: AmaViola; AmaCerto
American Queen Steamboat Company: American Queen; American Empress
Azamara Club Cruises: Azamara Quest
Avalon Waterways: Avalon Myanmar; Avalon Visionary; Avalon Passion
Carnival Cruise Line: Carnival Imagination; Carnival Inspiration; Carnival Miracle; early icons of the Carnival fleet; Carnival Vista
Celebrity Cruises: Celebrity Solstice
Celestyal Cruises: Celestyal Olympia
Costa Cruises: Costa Diadema; Costa Atlantica; Costa Luminosa
CroisiEurope: Elbe Princesse
Cruise & Maritime Voyages: Discovery
Crystal Cruises: Crystal Symphony
Cunard Line: Queen Mary 2
Disney Cruise Line: Disney Wonder; Disney Fantasy; Disney Magic; Disney Dream, Fantasy compared
Emerald Waterways: Emerald Sky; Emerald Radiance
Hapag-Lloyd: Europa 2
Hebridean Island Cruises: Hebridean Princess
Holland America Line: Amsterdam; Koningsdam; Westerdam; Rotterdam; Maasdam; Oosterdam
Hurtigruten: Midnatsol; Lofoten; Nordstjernen; Fram; Trollfjord
MSC Cruises: MSC Meraviglia
Norwegian Cruise Line: Norwegian Getaway; Norwegian Escape; Norwegian Sky; Norwegian Joy; Norwegian Bliss
Oceania Cruises: Nautica; Sirena; Marina; Insignia
Paul Gauguin Cruises: Paul Gauguin
P&O Cruises: Britannia
Princess Cruises: Regal Princess; Diamond Princess; early icons of the Princess fleet; Star Princess; Golden Princess
Regent Seven Seas Cruises: Seven Seas Mariner; Seven Seas Explorer; Seven Seas Voyager; Seven Seas Navigator
Royal Caribbean International: Quantum of the Seas; Anthem of the Seas; Freedom of the Seas; Harmony of the Seas; Symphony of the Seas
Scenic Cruises: Scenic Gem; Scenic Sapphire
Seabourn Cruise Line: Seabourn Encore
Silversea: Silver Galapagos; Silver Cloud; Silver Cloud (before 2017 makeover); Silver Muse
Star Clippers: Royal Clipper
Tauck: Inspire; Savor; Emerald
UnCruise Adventures: Safari Endeavour; Safari Voyager
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection: S.S. Maria Theresa; River Countess
Viking River Cruises: Viking Skirnir; Viking Herja; Viking Hild
Viking Ocean Cruises: Viking Star; Viking Sea; Viking Sky; Viking Sun
Windstar Cruises: Star Pride; Star Breeze; Wind Spirit
Retired ocean liners, cruise ships and yachts: SS Rotterdam; Royal Yacht Britannia
Theme galleries: 10 cruise ship suites that will blow your mind; the last of the great ocean liners; ship christenings with Queen Elizabeth II; Royal ship christenings through the years; 9 most amazing megaships; 25 most beautiful cruise vessels
USA TODAY Cruises: The 25 most beautiful cruise vessels